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The day is Sunday, July 21st, 1861, the time is 6 a.m., just after dawn. This day will see the largest engagement the hemisphere has ever known. The volunteers are anxious.
Along the Warrenton Turnpike, three-quarters of a mile east of the Stone Bridge, Union Brig. Gen. Daniel Tyler of the Connecticut Militia swings two of his brigades into line, Col. William T. Sherman’s to the north of the pike, Brig. Gen. Robert C. Shenck’s to the south. His orders are to feint an attack on the bridge, and await the appearance on the other side of Col. David Hunter’s column, which is to clear the approaches. Three days earlier he’d overstepped his instructions. The result was disastrous. When the smoke cleared at Blackburn’s Ford, Tyler’s 89 casualties had only proved that the direct route to Manassas Junction was held in force. This morning, however, he was determined to be more cautious. This day would see glorious results. As he scans the banks of Bull Run, the outline of the bridge becomes apparent, but the span has been blocked. An abatis—a formidable obstruction—has been laid across the pike for a considerable distance on the other side. A rumor at headquarters also has it that the Stone Bridge is mined. Returning to his lines, Tyler watches proudly as a 30-pounder Parrott, a veritable behemoth of a gun, is unlimbered astride the Warrenton Turnpike. In a few minutes a massive report will open the ball.
On the other side of the lazy Virginia stream, the men of Confederate Brig. Gen. Nathan G. Evans’s command are already up and waiting. It appears at first that the war is going to begin on their very doorstep. The Federal skirmishers move forward and a scattering fire is opened. At 6:30 a monster field piece begins a slow feeling out of their position. Soon, other improved rifled cannon join in the bombardment. Evans’s guns don’t reply, they haven’t the range. As the morning wears on and a Federal attack doesn’t materialize, Evans grasps the reason. The real attack must be coming from another quarter. A messenger arrives with startling information—advance units of a Federal flanking column are approaching the ford at Sudley Springs, a little over 2 miles to his left rear. Almost simultaneously, an orderly of the newly created signal corps brings in a report from E. P. Alexander. From high atop his observation tower he has seen the glint of steel and brass far to the north of Bull Run: “Look to your left, you are turned!”
Marching towards Sudley Springs, Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell’s turning column finds the going slow. The route is narrow, sometimes nothing more than a path. In places it’s necessary to cut away brush to allow artillery to get through. Hours are lost, the men tire easily. At 6:30 Tyler’s guns are heard to the south. Watching his men plod past, McDowell worries that they won’t be in fighting shape when the enemy is met. He finds consolation in the fact that he’ll be bringing 17,000 men to bear on the enemy’s weak flank. His lead brigade reaches Sudley Springs just before nine o’clock.
Now the reins of command are yours, the fate of the Union is at stake! As General McDowell you’ll reach the field with the men of Brig. Gen. Andrew Porter’s brigade. Yours is the burden of attack, but the numbers are with you. If you can effectively roll up the enemy’s left flank and advance on Manassas Junction, you can crush this insidious rebellion in its infancy.
As Confederate Generals Joseph E. Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard you must try to give as little ground as possible while you await reinforcements. A successful defense combined with timely counterattacks will rid the Old Dominion of the invading hordes. General Evans has already detached a small force to watch the bridge while he moves with the bulk of his demi-brigade to intercept the turning column. Will he hold against the tide pouring south on the Sudley New Market Road?
Manassas, Designer Signature Edition is a tactical level Civil War simulation for 2 or more players covering the First Battle of Manassas, Sunday, July 21st, 1861. Considered one of the best American Civil War games ever published, the entire package is beautifully rendered based on the original design with game enhancements by designer, Richard Britton.
- Complexity: Medium
- Time Scale: 15 minutes per turn
- Map Scale: 135 yards/hex
- Unit Scale: infantry regiments, battalions and detached companies. artillery batteries and sections. HQ and individual commanders.
- Players: 2 or more
- Solitaire: High
- Playing Time: 4+ hours
- 2 Maps
- 2 Countersheets
- 4 Player Aid Cards
- 2 Loss Record Displays
- 1 Loss Record logsheet (optional use)
- Designer: Richard H. Britton
- Graphic Artist: Knut Grünitz
- Project Director: John Kranz